Sunday, 26 March 2017


You get remiss, the fanlight, the wide doors,
the colours on the walls - nothing is yours;
still the steps are swept every day, kept clean,
a mat laid in rough welcome on the floor.
Heartaches, headaches over the right décor
for only a few days, then - as before -
either the grass beyond turns out too green
or walls close in, aren’t enough anymore.

But even the grass isn’t yours, never -
you dip your toes in it, never possess
a square inch of lawn, not even a blade;
and those blades themselves aren’t forever
all grass is flesh, lasts a minute or less
not too long before entire gardens fade.

Still on my rubai binge only the two above combined somehow, and then added a sestet - does that make it a valid sonnet? :)

Recently, at my local Poetry Circle, there was a debate on whether a poem should stand on its own, or have the context explained alongside it. I have always been in the 'stand-on-its-own' camp - I mean, if I have to explain the whys and wherefores of my poem, then obviously the poem's not doing its job!

Besides, a writer writes something with a certain meaning in mind, but often times the reader interprets it in a totally different way, and that is equally valid. And it's sometimes an a-ha moment for the poet too, to see the poem in a completely different light.  The whole process adds extra layers of meaning to the original writing, why narrow it down and lose the richness? That's been my take so far. In fact it could apply to any writing, not just poetry. 

In the Circle, most people (who are poets themselves obviously) thought the same as me, i.e. standalone, no context won.  I'd love to know what people here think?

Excitement for the A-Z building up, preps on, just a few posts left, I know I would do better if I stopped going back and tweaking and editing ad nauseum the ones already done and research/write the ones that need to be written...this is why writing 'as it comes' is so much easier, things are so much simpler when the post's rough and untidy :) Wow, end of this week we're into April and A-Z!  

Monday, 20 March 2017

Blogging from A-Z April Challenge : Theme Reveal!

This year, the A-Z Challenge is changing things – doing away with the sign-up list.   I like that! - the team keep innovating and improving the Challenge. My own take is that it’s better to initiate the change yourself, rather than have change thrust upon you. Much better crisis control! 

With that idea, I'm changing for my A-Z too - last  year-end I chalked up 20 years of living in the MENA region, though it didn’t feel like that. One minute we were newcomers and the next it was two decades, how did that happen?! Terrible at tracking time!

Anyways, this feels like an excellent moment to step away from poetry, which is what my A-Z’s have been about so far.  This time, something new and different. Yup, you heard that right.  Nope, no rhyming, no limericks.  Not even a cheep of free verse. Poetry, you're officially on notice for this A-Z!

So...I'm going to dig into my memories and experiences, come up with some regular paras and punctuation (always keeping a strict eye on the exclamation marks, of course!) And share with you the things I have seen and learnt as an outsider in my time here.

To sum theme for the Challenge is.... 

~ Arabiana ~

All through April I'll be putting out a smorgasbord of Arab culture  - art, architecture, design, films, history, music and whatever else  fits the letter of the day! This will be a way to mark this personal milestone, and also thank my Arab friends and the Arablands.

Let me take you to places of formidable beauty and millennia-old histories! Of exquisite craftsmanship and amazing art and mind-boggling architecture, foot-tapping music and mesmerising dance and theatre.  Of philosophy and folklore and traditions and customs  at once captivating and complex, heartfelt and hospitable. Come with me on a Arabian adventure!

Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017 Theme Reveal

Created by  Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out


Co-hosted by

Alex J. Cavanaugh @ Alex J. Cavanaugh

eremy Hawkins @ Hollywood Nuts

Heather M. Gardner The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary

John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing

J Lenni Dorner @ Blog of J. Lenni Dorner

Monday, 13 March 2017

Random rubais

Even if the lamp's made from gold
it cannot burn without a wick
which is from modest cotton rolled -
crucial is rarely aesthetic.


The heart shatters with the mirror, it’s old -
precious the memories more than the shards,
but together they reflect a thousand-fold
the flame and wick, the dark, the whole courtyard...


The tree wears a ring of birds like a diadem
and a few fireflies on itself - without the glow
they look just plain insects, ugly, not much to them -
a little dark is needed for their light to show.

That's what I've been doing this week, apart from trying to schedule A-Z posts that is - I've been writing rubais, which is the Arabic/Urdu/Hindi word for quatrains. Each quatrain or rubai is supposed to be complete in itself, at least that's the traditional rule, there are others too about syllable counts and such, those I happily ignore as per convenience.  These were written independent of each other, and at different times, do they seem connected? 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Different rules

Take nothing but photographs, the sign says
so the strange miracle of the tree’s coaxed
into the camera, the weird, gaunt knots
an odd angle of branch in desert haze

defying understanding. Things will grow
in their rightful places, and photographs
will fade of course, and days, and words, and maps,
not every poem leaves an afterglow -

transience and change, and a certain heave
at turns, the conflict of balance, and light.
Will it be enough - this capture of roadside? -
this effort to take nothing, quietly leave.

The window quickly reconfigures the sky.
The rules are different for passers-by.

I've been looking at old photographs, lots and lots of them., and one of them made it to this poem here.


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Leftover happiness

There’s no forward, everything spins in curves
comes back to the same point and place,
what to do? no backward either, sideways,
the same coordinates,  and nothing swerves

an inch -  only the old sugar jar lid -
I spun it today, the thread broke, couldn’t screw
it back on. Not anything of value,
recycled - mayonnaise? jam? - to begin with,

but it came from somewhere that’s young, happy
the details of contents I’ve forgotten
long ago, just that the memories sweeten
the sugar. I suppose it’ll have to be

thrown away at last, it’s spinning useless -
just have to scoop out the last happiness.

Back in the couch/mouse potato mode and healing as per medical orders, everything went well and I am back at the usual inaction station. This concludes my celebration of the mundane.  

Personally Feb's been a challenging month all round, in fact so far year 2017 shows every sign of turning into a full blown annus horribilis type thingy. Fingers crossed March works out better. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Leftover Rain

No hearts, no crosses
no gifts, no glyphs,
no trips, no roses,
nothing to spend
except a turn of staunchest shoulder,
and this leftover rain.
I have for you in liningskins
a flicker of red, and green
and in the pureed perfumepot
a curl of smell rising;
the deep caverns of words are still
speckled with fat ladybirds
come pick them up, feel them breathe
brush the leaves and feel them move
ever so slightly, ever so slight
loosen the hammock of strings of silk
holding this leftover rain.

It's been raining non-stop in Bahrain, the impromptu football field next to my home is flooded, the roads have been waterlogged, never seen anything like this here - pouring in the desert. Enjoyed the incessantly glisteny roads and surroundings, everything this last week came with the patina of reflections - glorious! What an amazing gift of the mundane to celebrate!

I am off most of this week - the old breathing apparatus needs some fixing - so I'm flat out and blogless, no phones, no gizmos in the hospital. But can take pen and paper in, always my loyalest and bestest of allies. I'll catch up with you as soon as I get back.  Meanwhile, stay well and have the loveliest of weeks!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Leftover Lives : Write...Edit...Publish...Feb 2017

Hello WEPers

It’s a brand new year at the Write...Edit...Publish... hosted by authors Denise and Yolanda, and I am beyond pleased to able to get back here! Though I have to admit that there’s nothing very brand new about my entry. 

Ever feel that a completely imaginary character has taken over your entire life?? Heba's got me by the throat these days. Remember her? Refugee, mother of 5 children, with 4 surviving when she and her husband Mahmoud found asylum in the USA?  Much as I would have preferred to write something fresh and new and romantic, I mean, Back of the Drawer, c’mon! It’s practically sitting up on its hind legs begging a juicy romantic type..sigh…

Heba walked into my head coolly one morning in November after the US elections and demanded that her story be told.  So I did, for the last WEP in December, and that was that. But apparently was not. Here she is again, insistent, persistent, resistant, the universal sisterhood of women everywhere.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Leftover smoke

Because it isn’t
always a given -
the pleasures of perfume -
I have breathed you in
through my heart
and skin,
through underlying veins
and every other sense
that zithered to life
when you ambled in.

When this whole
is once again
reduced to ash and dust,
what will rise -
no part of me –
but yours first and last
a faint thread, a residue
that’s yours, and only you.

I am not very good totally terrible at the hearts and chocolate and flower type thingies, so I am going with the less spectacular, sometimes acrid even, ways of celebrating this month. The mundane, the routine, the not so noticeable that actually fill our lives with joy and beauty, as a commenter remarked in my previous post.

And I want to just quickly mention that I am back at Write...Edit...Publish... on Wednesday 15th, where the prompt is 'Back of the Drawer' and can be as Valentine-y, or not, as you want.  Here's the list, looking forward to some super fun, definitely not something I'd want to keep in the back of the drawer :)

Monday, 6 February 2017

Leftover blob

In the washing up liquid
a fastener clip snapped off
from an old plastic box lid.

I hadn’t looked at it for years
it had been with me, quietly
storing condiments and candied fruit
like treasures, like secrets.

I examined it again closely today
and the seal was intact
three other clips worked
it could still hold its magic
it would serve its purpose.

At the base was a rough grainy patch
under my finger - a small leftover blob
of glue from the long-ago stripped tag
that no-one had managed to scrub off;
a fine mesh of accumulated dust clung to it
much like time does to love.

Well, it's February. Red heart time. Which I propose to observe in my own way, as I do most years. I'm going to shun the explicit, the dramatic, the OTT and embrace the mundane.  Much poetry in the mundane, I have only to look for it. And. Pay. Attention.  

Monday, 30 January 2017

That silhouette is a little familiar

When the panic is a blinding red haze,
and the hour flaps like a hollow windsock -
the meanings stand out, crisp, articulate,
above the din and win and lose of days,
in dark silhouette against empty talk.

I’ve recognised the meaning of happiness
from its outline, from a flimsy shadow,
its features indistinct against the wash
and thresh of light, but clear nevertheless
its final form, though the face didn’t show.

I have known it mostly by its absence,
the deeper when the cut’s been the sharpest.
When grief has sliced me small and wide open
I’ve felt it keen within touching distance,
mere feet away, a still shadow at rest.

And in that flare of time I’ve been content
to see its frame and infer what it meant.

Okay, so that's 'happy' done.  January's been a tough month all round.  A good month, therefore, to explore that particular theme. 

February is a Write…Edit…Publish month, sign up's on the 1st. Here are the challenges for 2017, must get thinking soon.  Back of the drawer - might be a good idea to actually pull one open and see what lurks there…who knows where that might lead...



Monday, 23 January 2017

Thirteen ways of happy


A dewdrop on a blade
and fisheyed reflections
of the entire space


A collapsed chrysalis -
the empty casings
of vast possibilities


One incomplete sentence
and the story arc
connecting the silence


Coffeefroth that mimicked
hearts before dispersing
as the drinker blinked


The absence of full stops
and caps, slow ripening
garbage smell echoes crops


Loosened rhymes jangling
like change in small pockets

of an early morning


Threads of smoke-mist
over the skyline, cities stretching
themselves awake


Darkness and milky moonlight
the river stumbles on its way
to silver


A fort like a forest canopy
a single tree where
thoughts can sing


The little button fruits
in pavement cracks in an
unknown neighbourhood


The wind in the eye
of a needle and through
the mane of a lion


The diamond that turns
out a pebble, speckled like
a birds egg and earth


The poems that aren’t poems
but you can’t take your
woozy mind off them

Still exploring 'happy,' and personally, nothing like the touch of old Mother Earth for that happiness fix.